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As long as there are still suspicions about the Chinese spy balloon, Montana’s 150 missile sites will be replaced



Billings, Montana – 150 launch facilities are managed by Montana’s 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls.

It’s a long-running, intricate initiative with implications for national security, and some people believe that’s why a Chinese spy balloon was spotted hovering over the state this week.

“I’d like to find an answer for why it’s hanging over our area,” Lewistown lawmaker Dan Bartel said Friday.

Several of Malmstrom’s missile installations are in Fergus County, where Bartel is a state senator for a district there.

These critical zones have been mentioned by the Department of Defense in recent media briefings on the balloon. The Department of Defense has been planning a significant upgrade of the nuclear weapons dispersed throughout the state.

Bartel is aware of the enhancements because 50 of the missile positions are in Fergus County.

According to him, the renovations were scheduled to begin in 2025. Now that has been delayed, and discussions regarding enhancements with the Air Force have all of a sudden stopped.

“We’ve been told that the project has been pushed out. It’s been pushed out two years,” he said. “They are having some redesign issues with the missiles themselves.”

Judith Basin, Lewis and Clark, Meagher, Teton, and Wheatland are some of the eight counties that are partially covered by the sites, which are dispersed across a 13,800-square-mile missile field.

With this project, the outdated Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile system will be replaced.

“The missiles have been around since the ’60s so now they are being upgraded to the new technology,” said Bartel.

Along with building two dozen new missile alert facilities across the northwest, including at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, and F.E. Warren Air Force Base, it also calls for the total refurbishment of all 450 currently in use missile launch facilities.

According to Bartel, the military’s presence in the community has greatly boosted the local economy and assisted in maintaining county highways.

But the settlement will expand even more once the work on the missile upgrades begins.

“First estimates are there would be about 1,500 new people during construction moving in and around these missile areas,” he said.

For the Lewistown employment hub, Bartel said he hopes they can build permanent infrastructure so that, once construction is finished, it can be used for community purposes, such as housing or anything else.

Bartel and others seek explanations, though, regarding the mysterious Chinese balloon.

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